Reflections On the Revolution In France

Marx and Burke's Contrasting Views of Ideal Progress

Edmund Burke and Karl Marx would have been mortified at each other's conception of acceptable progress and the movement of history. Such repugnance, in fact, was indeed expressed by Marx, reflecting the two polar views of his and Burke's respective philosopher parents, in this quote directed at Burke:

The sycophant-who in the pay of the English oligarchy played the romantic laudator temporis acti against the French Revolution just as, in the pay of the North American colonies at the beginning of the American troubles, he had played the liberal against the English oligarchy-was an out-and-out vulgar bourgeois.

From Das Kapital

Such condemnation of character-'out-and-out vulgar bourgeois' is the most brutal of insults for Marx-outlines in the philosopher's own words how fundamentally incompatible their two perspectives are. A component of such perspective, especially emblematic of their contrary views, is their outlook on the proper movement of history. While Burke supports an 'organic', gradual constitutional reform, Marx calls (literally; evidence in the closing line of his manifesto) for massive, violent revolution.

Burke, within his letter Revolution in France, employs the language of naturalness...

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